Common IRS Problems
Helpful Information on Your IRS Issues
The IRS penalizes millions of taxpayers each year. They have so many penalties that it's hard to understand which penalty they are
hitting you with.
The most common penalties are Failure to File and Failure to Pay. Both of these penalties can substantially increase the amount you
owe the IRS in a very short period of time.
To make matters worse the IRS charges you interest on penalties. Many tax-payers often find out about IRS problems many years
after they have occurred. This causes the amount owed the IRS to be substantially greater due to penalties and the accumulated
interest on those penalties.
Some IRS penalties can be as high as 75%-100% of the original taxes owed. Often taxpayers can afford to pay the taxes owed,
however, the extra penalties make it impossible to pay off the entire balance.
The original goal of the IRS imposing penalties was to punish taxpayers in order to keep them in line. Unfortunately, the penalties
have turned into additional sources of income for the IRS. So they are happy to add whatever penalties they can and to pile interest on
top of those penalties. Your loss is their gain.
Under certain circumstances the IRS does abate, or forgive, penalties. Therefore before you pay the IRS any penalty amounts, you
may want to consider requesting that the IRS abate your penalties.
Unfiled Tax Returns
Many taxpayers fail to file required tax returns for many reasons. What you must understand is that failure to file tax returns may be
construed as a criminal act by the IRS. This type of criminal act is punishable by one year in jail for each year not filed.
Needless to say, its one thing to owe the IRS money but another thing to potentially lose your freedom for failure to file a tax return.
The IRS may file "SFR" (Substitute For Return) Tax Returns for you. This is the IRS's version of an unfiled tax return. Because SFR
Tax Returns are filed in the best interest of the government, the only deductions you'll see are standard deductions and one personal
You will not get credit for deductions which you may be entitled to, such as exemptions for a spouse or children, interest and taxes on
your home, cost of any stock or real estate sales, business expenses, etc.
Regardless of what you have heard, you have the right to file your original tax return, no matter how late its filed.
The IRS can make your life miserable by filing Federal Tax Liens. Federal Tax Liens are public records that indicate you owe the IRS
various taxes. They are filed with the County Clerk in the county from which you or your business operates.
Because they are public records, they will show up on your credit report. This often makes it difficult for a taxpayer to obtain any
financing on an automobile or a home. Federal Tax Liens also can tie up your personal property, you cannot sell or transfer that
property without a clear title.
Often taxpayers find themselves in a Catch-22 where hey have property that they would like to borrow against, but because of the
Federal Tax Lien, they cannot get a loan. We can work toward getting the Tax Lien lifted so that you can borrow money on your
The IRS can audit you by mail, in their offices, or in your office or home. The location of your audit is a good indication of the severity
of the audit.
Typically, Correspondence Audits are for missing documents in your tax return that IRS computers have tried to find. These usually
include W-2's and 1099 income items or interest expense items. This type of audit can be handled through the mail with the correct
The IRS Office Audit is usually with a Tax Examiner who will request numerous documents and explanations of various deductions. This
type of audit may also require you to produce all bank records for a period of time so that the IRS can check for unreported income.
The IRS Home or Office Audit should be taken more seriously because the IRS auditor is a Revenue Agent. Revenue Agents receive
more training and learn more auditing techniques than a typical Tax Examiner.
The IRS audits should be taken seriously because they often lead to other tax years and other tax problems not originally stated in the
Payroll Tax Problems
The IRS is very aggressive in their collection attempts for past due payroll taxes. The penalties assessed on delinquent payroll tax
deposits or filings can dramatically increase the total amount you owe in just a matter of months.
I believe that it is critical for a taxpayer to have an attorney for a representation in these situations. How you answer the first five IRS
questions may determine whether you stay in business or are liquidated by the IRS. We always advise clients to avoid meeting with any
IRS representatives regarding payroll taxes until you have met with a professional to discuss you options.
An IRS Levy is the action taken by the IRS to collect taxes. For example, the IRS can issue a Bank Levy to obtain your cash in savings
and checking accounts. Or the IRS can levy your wages or accounts receivable. The person, company, or institution that is served with
the levy must comply or face their own IRS problems.
The additional paperwork this person, company, or institution, is faced with to comply with the IRS Levy often causes the taxpayers
relationship with that person to suffer. Levies should be avoided at all costs and are usually the result of poor or no communication
with the IRS.
When the IRS levies a bank account, the levy is only for the particular day the levy is received by the bank. The bank is required to
remove whatever amount of money is in your account that day (up to the amount of the IRS Levy) and send it to the IRS within 21 days
unless notified otherwise by the IRS. This type of levy does not affect any future deposits made into your bank account unless the IRS
issues another Bank Levy.
An IRS Wage Levy is difficult. Wage Levies are filed with your employer and remain in effect until the IRS notifies the employer that the
Wage Levy has been released. Most Wage Levies take so much money from the taxpayer's paycheck that the taxpayer doesn't even
have enough money to live on.
The IRS has extensive powers when it comes to Seizures of Assets. These powers allow them to seize personal and business assets to
pay off outstanding tax liabilities. This occurs when taxpayers have been avoiding the IRS.
This is one of the IRS's ultimate weapons. They can seize cars, television sets, jewelry, computers, collectibles, business equipment, or
anything with value which can be sold in order to acquire the money the IRS wants to pay off tax debts. If you are facing a seizure, you
have a serious problem.
The IRS Wage Garnishment is a very powerful tool used to collect taxes owed through your employer. Once a Wage Garnishment is
filed with an employer. Once a Wage Garnishment is filed with an employer, the employer is required to collect a large percentage of
each paycheck. The paycheck that would have otherwise been paid to the employee will then be paid to the IRS.
The Wage Garnishment stays in effect until the IRS is fully paid or until the IRS agrees to release the garnishment. Having wages
garnished can create other debt problems because the amount left over after the IRS takes its cut is often small, so you may have
difficulty with bills and other financial obligations.
Lance Wallach speaks at more than 20 conventions annually and writes for more than fifty publications about tax reduction ideas, abusive welfare benefit
and retirement plans, captive insurance companies, cash balance plans, life settlements, premium finance, etc. He is a course developer and instructor for
the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a prolific author. He has written or collaborated on numerous books, including, The Team
Approach to Tax and Financial Planning; Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hotspots; Alternatives to
Commonly Misused Tax Strategies: Ensuring Your Client’s Future, all published by the American Institute of CPAs; The CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance, and
The CPA’s Guide to Trusts and Estates, both published by Bisk Education, and his latest book, Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence, and Scams,
published by Wiley. In addition, Mr. Wallach writes for various national business associations that sell his books to their members and others. He has been
an expert witness on some of the above issues, and to date his side has never lost a case.
The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other
entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.